Monday, July 28, 2008

Sunday Morning on BBC

Sunday morning we were up early to do a series of local BBC radio interviews on what's up here at the Lambeth Conference. (Here's me in the radio studio on campus at the University of Kent.)

Here was the schedule:
  • 0700 Stoke
  • 0710 Oxford
  • 0720 Bristol
  • 0730 Sheffield
  • 0740 Shropshire
  • 0750 Coventry & Warwickshire
  • 0810 Northamptonshire
  • 0820 Derby
  • 0840 Cumbria
And here was the intro that the local radio hosts read ... pretty much verbatim ... to begin our 5-6 minute segments:

There's been further signs this week that the bitter conflict in the Anglican Communion over homosexuality is dominating the Lambeth Conference in Canterbury. The Most Rev Daniel Deng Bull, Archbishop of Sudan, told the conference Bishop Gene Robinson -- the openly gay Bishop -- must go, to save the church from schism.
Just under a quarter of bishops in the Anglican Communion have boycotted the Conference in protest of the attendance of pro-gay clergy. The absent bishops, largely conservative church leaders from the Global South, held an alternative summit in Jerusalem last month, the GAFCON conference. Well despite attempts by liberals at the conference to steer debate away from the controversy over gay clergy it still appears to be dominating the agenda.
Well, I'm joined now by the Rev Susan Russell, President of Integrity, the organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Episcopalians. Susan is a parish priest in California, and is herself gay and was "banned" from the GAFCON conference in Jerusalem. Good morning, Reverend Russell ...

And off we went. Nine times.

It was not surprising to me that the questions started with the "schism thing" ... after all, "vast majority of Anglican bishops meet for prayer, study and reflection" doesn't have the same headline quality as "Sudanese Bishop calls for Robinson's ouster!" does.

It did, however, give me the opportunity to say that the conference I heard being reported in the media bore very little resemblance to the one I saw unfolding around me -- where bishops were working hard to hear and listen to each other and settling in to a process that called for both recognizing and respecting differences.
AND to say -- again -- that the Archbishop of the Sudan expressing his disapproval of the American Church was hardly news ... there have been calls for +Gene's resignation since before he was even CONSECRATED. What was news was the fact that on the second day of a two week conference the conservative hardliners were already re-drawing their line in the sand.

And it gave me the chance to point out -- once again -- that if sexuality is dominating anything at Lambeth Conference, it's dominating the agenda of those determined to use our differences and exploit them into divisions.

It WAS surprising to me that not ONCE in any of the nine different interviews did ANYONE ask me anything that began "And what do you say to those who say, 'But the Bible says ...'" The kind of biblical proof-text questions I'm so accustomed to answer from the U.S. media just didn't seem to part of the British lexicon of questions to ask.

Rather, the questions were about holding the communion together, did I think there WOULD be "a split," and how did it feel to be both gay AND a woman in a church where there was so much controversy about both "issues."
I had the chance to say that Jesus called us to "let our light so shine" and that's what the LGBT witness was doing here at Lambeth Conference -- letting the light of our witness to the Good News of God in Christ Jesus present in our lives our vocations and our relationships shine in our encounters with brothers and sisters from around the communion.
I had the chance to say that Jesus promised us "the truth would set us free" and we were blessed by the opportunity to witness to the Anglican Communion the truth that there were indeed LGBT Anglicans all OVER the communion serving God and the church and it was time for the church to recognize that.

Most of the segments were preceded by a musical intro and so -- given that it was a VERY eclectic repertoire -- my interview followed everything from "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands," "Out of Africa," and ... (ironically) "Can't Get No Satisfaction." (I worked references to the first two into the interview ... couldn't quite manage the third!)

It was a great opportunity and well worth getting up for early on a Sunday morning.
Happily, the rest of the day had some GENUINE R&R as we ventured out for a drive through the English countryside ...

... for a visit to Sissinghurst Castle Garden ...

... followed by a stop at a place called "Froggies" ...

... where we had -- arguably -- one of the best dinners in the history of food.

And now, it's onward to Week Two of Lambeth Conference 2008.

1 comment:

uffda51 said...

That's my kind of dinner!

One wonders at the fuzzy thinking that concludes that the resignation of Gene Robinson would save the AC.

Would this action remove the closeted gay bishops from the AC? The glbt faithful around the world? Their supporters around the world?

And how about this for a survey question - How many AC bishops have read Gene Robinson's new book?